FMLA – Family Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave each year in certain situations, including the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, their own or a family member’s serious health condition and a family member’s military service.
The FMLA was enacted in 1993 to help employees balance their work and family life. The law was amended in 2008 and 2009 to include additional leave provisions for military families. Final regulations were issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) and became effective on Jan. 16, 2009. Additional final regulations on the FMLA’s military family leave provisions and rules related to airline personnel and flight crews were released on Feb. 6, 2013.
In general, the law requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, to care for a sick family member, for the employee’s own illness, or for any “qualifying exigency” which arises as a result of a family member serving on covered active military duty.
The law also requires that eligible employees receive up to 26 workweeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member who is their spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin. However, eligible employees are limited to a total of 26 workweeks of FMLA-protected leave during such 12-month period. For example, an employee cannot take 26 workweeks of FMLA leave to care for a covered service member and then also take 12 more weeks for other FMLA qualifying reasons.
The FMLA applies to private employers with 50 or more employees on each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. It is not necessary that an employee actually performs work on each working day or receives compensation for the week to be counted as employed, so long as the employee’s name appears on the employer’s payroll. Employees on leave are counted as employed if the employer has a reasonable expectation that they will return to active employment.
The FMLA applies to public agencies and to public as well as private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees employed.
An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if the employee has been employed by a covered employer for at least 12 months (need not be consecutive months, but must not be more than a seven-year break in service, except in certain circumstances, such as military service or collective bargaining agreements) and has worked at least 1,250 hours for that employer during the previous 12-month period. An eligible employee must also be employed at a worksite where the employer employs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.